Cinema

Abhiroop Basu digs deep into the world of gay community with his film Lipstick starring Adil Hussain

30th Sep 2022 12:00 AM | Sharmistha Ghosal

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After making quite an impression on the discerning audience with his intense and powerful films like Meal, Laali, Gudgudi and Gudiya, filmmaker and screenwriter Abhiroop Basu is all set with his upcoming film Lipstick which has Adil Hussain in the lead.

 Lipstick is a film on the LGBTQIA community which also features many real-life members of the community in the film including one of the leads. Basu also wrapped up shooting Rhino Charge with another talented actress Geetanjali Kulkarni a while back. In this interview, he shares with us the first look of Lipstick along with a lowdown on the subject.

Tell us a little about Lipstick. Is this also a short or a full-length feature?

This is a narrative short of 25 minutes but there is an idea which came during the shooting of exploring this character further and also the world of Lipstick along with it. So, let's see, it might turn out into a full-length feature.

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Abhiroop Basu

What's the film all about?

The film is about Asif, a closet gay Muslim factory worker who goes through a journey of self-discovery when he picks up this odd job at a B-Movie theatre, set in a turbulent post-pandemic world. It has been brilliantly played by Adil Hussain. 

Like most of my stories, Lipstick is also a page out of real life. Last year I spotted a light-caretaker who worked on the sets of Laali somewhere near Chetla, late at night while I was coming back from a family gathering. He was unrecognisable, decked in a cheap sari. I just had a fleeting glimpse but the face felt very familiar. I tried to connect to him through the production manager who worked with me in Laali but he was hesitant to speak about him. It took me a month to track him down. Lipstick is inspired by the interactions I had with him, the process of self-discovery he went through and the tragedies that came along his journey of becoming a woman. 

Abhiroop Basu with Geetanjali Kulkarni during the shoot of Rhino Charge

Again you have cast with Adil...

Absolutely. I wrote the story keeping him in mind and he agreed right away. This is the fastest that I have written any screenplay -- within a span of four hours - and emailed Adil right away. The following evening he called to say yes to the film. 

The film also stars Rajesh Sharma, Sudeep Dhara (of web series Mandar fame) and Mohinder Gujral. 


Tell us about Rhino Charge too.

The film is essentially a story of a Muslim woman in a man's world told in the garb of a riveting, oftentimes bizarre, deadpan, dark comedy. 

It's about Razia, a maid turned caregiver who finds herself in a precarious situation when she makes her first attempt at bathing a wheelchair-bound war veteran of the Indian Army, in the midst of a personal tragedy – set in Kolkata, at the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Rhino Charge is like jhaal muri -- it's a mix of several unrelated things coming together, but when it does, it leaves a distinct aftertaste! 

Shooting still from Rhino Charge

How was it working with Geetanjali Kulkarni?

Delightful! Both she and Vinod Nagpal who was also integral part of the film. So was Shantilaal Mukherjee. But I wrote this especially for Geetanjali after watching her in Court and then in War-Room. She brings so much grace and honesty to her performances.

Tell us how the scene is now for indie filmmakers.

It's harder than in a pre-Covid world if you are trying to make a film in the Hindi language since big films have failed miserably this year. Unless the bigger films make money, people usually stay away from taking risks with smaller indie projects. So, they are pushing for formulae which are failing as well since there is no novelty in them. So, it's a strange situation and no one is ready to take a risk and attempt something new unless it's a Hindi remake of a South Indian film. 

Have the OTT platforms improved the chances for your ilk?

Yes, for the very first time, a short film like Laali was trending on Disney+Hotstar for a month. It's important to find an audience for your film, even if it's a niché film and Laali surely did that I feel. 

Are you planning any full-length feature films or web series?

Both are happening next year and things are already in their developmental stages. 

I have three films which are ready to hit the festivals coming year. There is Gudgudi starring Rajshri Deshpande, Rhino Charge starring Geetanjali Kulkarni and now, Lipstick with Adil Hussain. I'm also shooting something in Rajasthan during winter this year which will be my last short film for a good long while from now. 

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